Beatles VI

The sixth US album released by “the worlds most popular foursome”

The Beatles "Beatles VI" LP 1965
The Beatles VI LP released in the USA in June, 1965. Universal/Apple Corps Ltd

They may have been slow to start, but once Capitol Records in the US realized the potential money pool they had in their midst in the form of The Beatles, the record company really started to pump out product. The Beatles were selling millions, and despite thoughts in some quarters that they’d soon burn out and be replaced by the next big thing, they were showing no signs of fading.

The Unusual Story of Beatles VI's Creation

By 1965 Capitol could use as much product as it could possibly get from its British Invasion cash cows. It had been six months since they’d had anything new on the market. Only thing was, the Beatles themselves had little to no control over what Capitol was doing with their US albums, and so to fill that product gap the album Beatles VI was quickly compiled. This was done in a similarly haphazard way to their previous US albums and so Beatles VI bore only scant resemblance to the titles being issued in the UK.

Because their selection of songs was completely out of kilter with the rest of the world, Capitol had in reserve only six songs that to date hadn’t seen a US release. These came from the British Beatles For Sale LP. Of course, six songs isn’t enough material to fill a whole album - so where would they find another five or six more?

Capitol’s solution to this dilemma meant that the band's US fans were actually in for some treats on Beatles VI. They got no less than four new tracks that their British counterparts were yet to hear. These included two tracks specially recorded for the American market. These were both Larry Williams compositions, "Bad Boy" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy." It’s thought that this was the only time that the band recorded material like this for a specific market.

The other songs were George Harrison’s "You Like Me Too Much," and the Lennon/McCartney duet "Tell Me What You See," both of which would not appear until two months later on the UK version of p! (as would "Dizzy Miss Lizzy"). These were early "sneak peaks" for American Beatle followers. 

Furthermore, the song ‘Bad Boy’ wouldn't be available in any other market for almost a year-and-a-half, when it was included on the UK compilation A Collection of Beatle Oldies. That LP was issued in December, 1966.

Beatles VI also included "Yes It Is," (which was the B-side to the single, "Ticket to Ride"). John Lennon once said that ‘Yes It Is’ was his attempt to re-write ‘This Boy’, which had been so successful earlier as the B-side to the huge selling single ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. He described it as a failure, but it has stood the test of time and ranks amongst his very best love songs. It features beautiful three-part harmony singing, and George Harrison using a distinctive volume pedal effect on his guitar fills.

Beatles VI came out on June 14, 1965.  If you don’t count The Beatles Story double LP documentary (released by Capitol in November, 1964 to quickly generate more revenue) it was the group's sixth LP in just under eighteen months. That’s an extraordinary release schedule in anyone’s language. And that’s not counting the two LPs already out there on the Vee-Jay and United Artists labels respectively.

A Selection of the Songs on Beatles VI

'Eight Days A Week' is infectious and became one of the singles lifted from the album in the USA. According to Paul McCartney the song has its origins in a real-life encounter: “I used to go out to John's house in Weybridge to write songs and at that particular time I had been busted for speeding, so I had to have a driver to take me out there and we were chatting on the way and I remember saying to the guy, well how you been, you know, you been busy? And he said, 'Oh yeah mate, I've been working eight days a week.' And I went into John's house and said, 'Right, I've got the title 'Eight Days A Week' and we wrote it there and then.” 

The album's closer, 'Every Little Thing' was predominantly a Paul McCartney composition, and a beautiful somewhat under-rated one at that. Most probably written for his girlfriend Jane Asher, the origins of the song are a little obscure. McCartney biographer Barry Miles says it was written in the Asher home in London, while McCartney himself says it was penned in Atlantic City while they were on tour. Either way it's a charming song. Interestingly, despite being being written by McCartney the vocal is by John Lennon, and Ringo plays big timpani drums on the song. You can see a photo of him with the drums on the rear cover of the album.  

Atlantic City was also the place where 'What You're Doing' came to be. Written while on tour, it was later described by Paul as being album "filler". He felt that this time the recording of it was better than the song itself: "You sometimes start a song and hope the best bit will arrive by the time you get to the chorus...but sometimes that's all you get, and I suspect this was one of them. Maybe it's a better recording than it is a song, some of them are. Sometimes a good recording would enhance the song."

Despite being quickly cobbled together, such was the strength of the material that Beatles VI reached the number one spot on the Billboard charts on July 10, 1965. It stayed there for six weeks.

The album cover photo used by Capitol is worth mentioning. In contrast to the somber tone we see on the cover of Beatles For Sale, this image is the exact opposite. It is The Beatles with smiling faces and what at first seems to be their hands clasped together in unison. In fact, they’re actually cutting a cake – but this part of the image has been cropped out. You can see the original photograph here. All-in-all, like the musical content, this cover while OK for its time, has the feeling of being a rushed job by Capitol.

Beatles VI was later also released in the UK and New Zealand.